This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 10 October 2021

How to receive papal guests

Yes, it's another one in our series "How to be a good pope", containing top tips for those readers who may end up with the big job without having a clue how to do it. There are no training courses available, not even Youtube videos, so future popes tend to come here for advice.

As a pope you will naturally receive visitors wishing to benefit from your wisdom, to give you a piece of their mind, or simply to get a bit of free publicity (thinking of you, Austen, Greta, Fr Jimbo...) Let's have a few case studies.

Pope and Bishop of Norwich

Tip 1: Do not scream "heretic" and call for the Inquisition.

The Anglican bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher, drops in, bearing sumptuous gifts, namely a jar of honey (formerly the property of Richard Dawkins) and a bee facemask (no, this is not something to protect bees from Covid-19). Now, this is the bishop in whose cathedral there was a helter-skelter two years ago and a plastic dinosaur skeleton this year. What can his Lordship possibly want? Is he going to advise you to set up a helter-skelter in the Sistine Chapel, or a dinosaur skeleton in St Peter's Basilica (a nasty jibe against the priests who used to be allowed to offer Masses there)? Or is it simply that he expects you to liven up the tombs of the saints by surrounding them with beehives?

Have a quick photo opportunity, and send him packing. Keep the honey, though, and wear the mask at your next papal audience to frighten the pilgrims.

Pope and Nacy Pelosi

Tip 1 (bis): Do not scream "heretic" and call for the Inquisition.

The Wicked Witch of the West is your next visitor. Another one seeking a photo opportunity, and perhaps a papal endorsement of her activities. You instantly find common ground with her - you both hate the Big Bad Orange Man - and you get on like a house on fire. Unfortunately you can't accede to her wishes that you donate a few million dollars to Planned Parenthood - Vatican finances are a bit rocky at the moment - but she has your blessing.

You hear later that she attended a Mass in Rome and was booed out. Well, that's been happening to you quite a lot recently, especially since you declared war on the entire pre-1960s Catholic Church - so you can sympathise.

And now some visitors you definitely don't want to welcome.

Cardinal Zen

Tip 2: Set the papal poodles (Antonio and Austen) on unwanted guests..

Cardinal Tao has arrived all the way from China, and wants an audience with you. There is absolutely nothing in this for you - no photo opportunity, just a 30-minute lecture on why it is a bad idea to let a totalitarian dictatorship run the Catholic Church in China. Pretend you're out. Pretend you're ill. Don't bother to pretend, just lock the doors.

Cardinal Burke

Tip 2 (bis): Set the papal poodles (Antonio and Austen) on unwanted guests..

Finally, one of those irritating Dubia cardinals is still trying to get in to see you. It's been nearly five years since four of them wrote a letter asking you to clarify Catholic teaching by answering five simple Yes/No questions. As a Jesuit, clarifying teaching would be unprecedented behaviour, and make you very unpopular with the Superior, Arturo Sausage. Clear off, Ray.

dubia roach

Which reminds me...

According to Wikipedia, the gentleman above is called a Dubia Roach. The name may remind you that there's a great fan of yours at the Congregation for Divine Worship who is looking for a red hat in an extra large fitting. Indeed, he recently said "the post-Vatican II missal of Paul VI is the 'richest' the Church has ever produced." Come on, invite him round for tea (order lots of cinnabons) and give him what he wants!


  1. Presumably the correct way to greet a member of the laity unhappy about restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass is to give them a good slapping? Also a sermon on the dangers of divisivness of course.

  2. Perhaps synodal papal protocol calls for upping his game & going for the Monty Python Fish Slapping Dance?